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Lawmakers to Vote on Hemp Amendment to Farm Bill

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director June 5, 2013


    It is possible that, for the first time ever, the United States Senate will vote to approve industrial hemp cultivation in the coming days. Please take a moment of your time to encourage your Senator to support this measure. You can easily do so by clicking here.

    Senator Ron Wyden has introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 954, the Senate version of this year’s federal farm bill, that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.

    The amendment language mimics the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013,” which remains pending as stand-alone legislation in both the House and Senate but has yet to receive a legislative hearing. Senator Wyden’s provision to the Senate’s Farm Bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The measure grants state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.

    “For me, what’s important is that people see, particularly in our state, there’s someone buying it at Costco in Oregon,” Senator Wyden previously stated in support of this Act, “I adopted what I think is a modest position, which is if you can buy it at a store in Oregon, our farmers ought to be able to make some money growing it.”

    Eight states – Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production. Passage of this amendment would remove existing federal barriers and allow these states and others the authority to do so without running afoul of federal anti-drug laws.

    Senator Wyden’s amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has also expressed his support for this proposal.

    According to a Congressional Research Service report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.”

    It is likely that the Senate will vote on the hemp amendment in the coming days, so it is imperative that you contact your Senator and urge them to stand with Senator Wyden and support this important proposal. You can click here to easily contact your Senator and urge him or her to stand with America’s farmers and legalize industrial hemp.

    [6/7/13 UPDATE: UNFORTUNATELY, SENATORS ULTIMATELY REJECTED INCLUDING THIS LANGUAGE IN THE SENATE FARM BILL. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HAS THE STORY HERE: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/jun/07/kentuckys-senators-blocked-effort-legalize-hemp/.]

    31 Responses to “Lawmakers to Vote on Hemp Amendment to Farm Bill”

    1. Legalize, regulate, tax, pot. NOW

    2. Bridgette Berkes says:

      Hemp for victory!

    3. john says:

      Did you know that growing marijuana in China is legal? Hmmm they seem to be doing quite well these days.

    4. Robert says:

      “Did you know that growing marijuana in China is legal? Hmmm they seem to be doing quite well these days.” Nothing in the entire universe can describe how dumb what you just said was.

    5. Chris in WI says:

      This is the real test, marijuana is illegal because of hemp, not the other way around…

    6. Sean says:

      “This is the real test, marijuana is illegal because of hemp, not the other way around…”

      Anslinger and Hearst used the mexican word marijuana to confuse the public about the cannabis plant. Hemp is illegal because of the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937, which effectively put an exorbitant tax on the cannabis species, which includes both hemp and marijuana.

    7. david evans says:

      legalize now, not a drug but an herb. let’s help the farmers out and in return we get a plant that can do so much in every field of work there is

    8. Kris says:

      We just need the federal gov’t to give our states their rights back.

    9. TheOracle says:

      There a capwiz thing for this?

      Still don’t mean cannabis for recreational purposes will be ought of the way federally.

      Does passing this look like it will allow the trade in seeds? I’m thinking, there is no way to tell the potency of a seed’s genetics without destroying it so seed selling would be legal. Farmers planting the low-THC industrial hemp will buy it from businesses, so it’ll have to be legal to trade in seeds. So, Canada spreads to the U.S. that way, the policy spreads. I’ll take that little nudge a bit closer to the legalization end of the cannabis continuum.

      NORML, thank you.

    10. TheOracle says:

      I just read on HuffPost that it’s running into stiff law enforcement opposition. Why do the cops get to tell them what to do? Will they do what the cops tell them to do? Yup, just like before. I’ll shit a brick (of Nederhasj) if they pass it.

    11. john says:

      Take a look at who is worlds largest producer of hemp and make your comment Robert.

    12. Garrett says:

      Actually in 1969 the hemp tax act of 1937 was nullified and thats when Nixon started the war on drugs by enacting the drug classification schedule that we have today. So if Kennedy never got shot it would never have been shot…

    13. Kota says:

      I’m sure that once Monsanto creates a patented version of hemp that only they can sell, then the legalization of hemp will be fast tracked.
      ;^p

    14. Julian says:

      Chris is right Sean: marijuana is illegal because of hemp, and it is our need for hemp as an oil stabalizer to replace corn that hemp will legalize marijuana at the federal level again…
      The first model Ts off the world’s first mass production plant made by Henry Ford had windshields made out of cellulose plastic; made from hemp oil. A renewable fuel that any farmer could grow would not give the Rockefeller tycoons or burgeoning petrochemical companies such as Dupont the control of the supply and therefore price of crude oil.
      By the time Anslinger and Hearst came around and nylon was invented Congress was already purchased by crude oil and petrochemical industries to outlaw hemp even before the governement began propoganda that marijuana was dangerous and the same as hemp.
      This hemp farm bill amendment may very well pass the Senate. And if it doesn’t pass Congress you can bet your Missouri river bottom when Americans hear the spin on this bill we will get MOTAvated to VOTE.

    15. Julian says:

      Did I just hear 75 to 32?? Did the farm bill just PASS???!!!

    16. Julian says:

      It passed the Senate! Good job holding out there to the end Senator Wyden! Now the only thing holding the hemp amendment up in Congress is about 15 billion dollars in cuts to food stamps. So here is the compromise: create a Hemp Hunger Campaign to offer people on food stamps the alternative of replacing food stamps with 20 pounds of hemp seed with subsidized assistance from the department of agcriculture on how to grow, harvest and store hemp and sell it back to private industries?
      Some people on food stamps would take the offer. If not they can always eat the seeds.

    17. THIS IS A GOOD BILL lets get it pasted!

    18. Julian says:

      Correction to an earlier post; 75 to 22. Duh! We only have 100 Senators, and one died so I don’t know what the excuse is for the other two.
      While i’m at it, Stephen, I’m pretty sure you meant “Let’s get it passed.” But if you meant “pasted” made from environmentally safe hemp product well that sounds like a patent!

      [Paul Armentano responds: Unfortunately, language reclassifying the federal scheduling of low-THC cannabis as industrial hemp was rejected as an amendment and not will not be included in the final version of the Senate Farm Bill, to be officially voted on next week.

      http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/jun/07/kentuckys-senators-blocked-effort-legalize-hemp/

      Kentucky’s senators blocked in effort to legalize hemp

      BRUCE SCHREINER,Associated Press
      Posted June 7, 2013 at 7:16 a.m.
      DiscussPrintAAA

      FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s U.S. senators suffered a setback Thursday in their efforts to re-establish industrial hemp as a legal crop, but they vowed to continue their campaign after getting blocked as they tried to attach hemp language to the Senate farm bill.

      Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul said they would oppose the Senate farm legislation.

      Their amendment would have removed federal restrictions on the domestic production of industrial hemp. The crop once flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

      Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

      The push by McConnell and Paul to legalize industrial hemp comes after Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill this year to allow the crop to be reintroduced in the Bluegrass State, but only if the federal government lifted its prohibition on the plant.

      “Although we’re disappointed in the lack of consideration of our industrial hemp amendment, it is only the beginning of our legislative efforts,” the Republican U.S. senators said in a joint statement. “We are committed to continuing to look at all options to win approval of this important legislation for job creation in Kentucky.”

      McConnell and Paul blamed majority-Senate Democrats for blocking consideration of additional amendments to the five-year farm bill, including their hemp proposal.

      “This year’s Senate farm bill is in need of serious improvement and the refusal to allow better ideas and more sensible allocations of taxpayer dollars to be considered is very disappointing,” McConnell and Paul said. “We will be opposing the Senate farm bill as a result.”

      The Courier-Journal first reported the senators’ reaction to the hemp amendment’s setback.

      The farm bill advanced on a 75-22 procedural Senate vote Thursday that sets up a vote to pass the measure next Monday. The bill would cost almost $100 billion annually and would set policy for farm subsidies, food stamps and other farm and food aid programs.

      Republican House leaders have said their chamber will vote on the bill, possibly as soon as this month.

      In Kentucky, the industrial hemp movement has firmly taken root as the plant’s advocates hope for a breakthrough at the federal level.

      State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says its reintroduction would give farmers a new crop and would create processing jobs to turn the fiber and seeds into products ranging from paper to biofuels. Dozens of countries already produce the crop.

      Comer went to Washington to meet with federal officials to lobby for a change on hemp policy at the federal level.

      Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear let the state’s hemp bill become law without his signature. The Democratic governor said he wouldn’t sign the legislation out of concerns, shared by some in law enforcement, that marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

    19. Jeanie Embry says:

      The amendment language mimics the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013,” which remains pending as stand-alone legislation in both the House and Senate but has yet to receive a legislative hearing. My guess is this amendment in the Farm Bill is being used as some dastardly leveraging tool to cut SNAP benefits. IF McConn & Paul are serious about getting behind legalizing hemp then giddy up on getting the standalone bill out of committee hearings and onto the House & Senate floor for a vote.

    20. Julian says:

      Well that sucks. But it doesn’t break my heart. I’m only encouraged by the tension building up to the vote. Thank you to everyone at NORML and vothemp.com for what you are doing. Keep the faith: we are closer every day.

    21. Julian says:

      Well said, Jeanie. The stage is now set for the Hemp Farming Act on its own. Despite how the Kentucky Senators blame Democrats for blocking the bill, It’s encouraging to see the growing bipartisan support in the House (41 cosponsors) for the Hemp Farming Act. Perhaps even more intersting is how the Kentucky Senators are bringing the hemp vote out into the public for an election spin. Better start reading your hemp leaves Congress; Americans are about to get educated and vote on some hemp.
      I still fell that bartering $20 billion food stamps for legalized hemp is a bluff that should be called. Is it necessary? No. Are Congressman using this as a distracter to keep from legalizing hemp? You bet. But with that said, if that’s what it comes down to in order to pass the Hemp Farming Act of 2013, we need to call their bluff and take the deal. With Hemp legalized, we could afford to implement Hemp for Hunger campaigns that would have much greater educational and nutritional outreach to impovrished families than 20.5 billion dollars of TANF programs.

    22. Julian says:

      As I peered further into what “evil” amendments that Democrats could possibly block besides Food Stamp cuts that would give Senators McConnel and Paul the chance to point the finger at Democrats for shooting down further amendments while appearing to stand up for their State to survive elections, I was surprised to agree with opposing the Farm Bill for much more than rejecting the hemp amendment. Out of 254 amendments we don’t even know what our Congress is voting for or against. I found this;

      “Recent Amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill Should Terrify Consumers
      Tess VandenDolder May 28th at 12:15 pm
      Politics, news

      As the Senate’s Memorial Day vacation continues this week, Senators will have some serious thinking to do while enjoying the sun in their home districts. When the chamber returns to work on June 3rd, they will resume consideration of the 2013 Farm Bill, a piece of legislation that already has a drastically different feel from the last Farm Bill passed in 2008. Here’s a breakdown of some of the newly passed amendments to the bill that will have the most controversial effect:

      For starters, the Senate rejected an amendment that would simply allow states the right to pass local legislation requiring genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. A seemingly common sense amendment, especially considering we do not yet know the effects these food have on human health in the long term. This rejection just screams of special corporate interests taking precedent over public health.
      Speaking of corporate interests, the so called Monsanto Protect Act has been approved as part of the bill, despite widespread public outcry. This piece of the legislation would allow companies like Monsanto that sell genetically modified seeds to continue business as usual even if the Department of Agriculture proves the seeds to be unsafe for human consumption. This comes just weeks after the Supreme Court sided with Monsanto in a patent protection case, forbidding farmers from saving Monsanto seeds to replant every season.
      The Senate has made clear its intentions to whittle down the food stamp program, but a recently passed amendment introduced by Senator David Vitter takes things to the extreme. If the bill passes, this amendment would ban anyone who has ever been convicted of a violent crime from receiving food stamp benefits for life. It would also drastically lower benefits for family members of the offender. This amendment would disproportionately effect the African American community, not to mention undermining the idea of rehabilitation within the criminal justice system.
      As the Senate finishes up approving amendments for the 2013 Farm Bill in preparation of a floor vote at the end of June, it’s important for Americans to keep an eye on where exactly their money is going in this legislation. Already the current bill tops off at costing the tax payer $1 trillion, a steep increase from the $650 billion price tag for the 2008 Farm Bill. Furthermore, many members of Congress with strong ties to the agricultural industry will actually personally be receiving subsidies. For example, Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, pocketed $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012.”

      And there it is. If we don’t get active with NORML, votehemp.com and other non-for profits, Corporations like Monsanto will be feeding us carcinogenic genetically modified foods that are known to harm us under USDA guidelines, while denying us hemp and marijuana that cures cancer.
      Let’s get the word out. We can’t stand idle and allow this to happen anymore.

    23. Hemp 4 Abundance says:

      Who blocked this amendment? Is it written anywhere, or otherwise possible to find out?

    24. Julian says:

      http://www.kyforward.com
      “Last week, with some amendments still pending, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called for a cloture vote which essentially meant no further amendments would be considered before a full vote.”
      The Senate just wants to get the farm bill through. The Hemp Farming Act will have to go alone. It has many supporters.
      In short, the pressure is from law enforcement and asset forfeitures. Their argument is that “if we let people grow hemp they’ll hide marijuana in the fields.” Rest assured, this fight is far from over.

    25. level1 says:

      Why does there have to be a law about every friggin thing? No one made a law about how many breaths you take or drinks you swallow.
      But they can tell you what to eat, drink, grow, smoke etc. I never ok’ed this behavior in my life. I was just born here. As a result I’m suppose to go along with this crap? Something inside says No with a capital N. Do what you want and don’t get caught is not a way to have to live. But they force this on just about every one. Now were a police state when they can just drag you off in broad daylight with out a word. Hold you for days or forever if they really want. No one will here from you. It’s like something out of a scify flick. But it’s real and it’s here and it’s now. Get your boots on folks the battle is upon us. If we don’t handle this now. Mankind will forever be enslaved to Whitey.

    26. juan says:

      will pr follow!

    27. juan says:

      puerto rico

    28. juan says:

      or kona hawaii?

    29. juan says:

      500 an acre BIRDS LOVE HEMP SEEDS, SO DO HUMANS

    30. juan says:

      GO HEMP OIL

    31. It seems odd to me that at least two states grows, sells, collect taxes on marijuana that they grow, yet thousands of men & women are in prison because they grew & sold marijuana. The 14th Amendment gives the state and citizens the same rights, How come the states can & other citizens can’t? Can someone tell me why?
      R. K. Alburtis

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